Up to Something Good
What is the good that God desires for us? Pastor Oliver exhorts us to examine our heart's desires against God's.
I recently heard a Bible teacher and biblical counsellor say, "God is in it, and He is up to something good." It got me thinking. This statement presupposes that the character of God is good (Ps 100:5, Mk 10:18). If God's character is good, everything He does and everything we receive from Him is good. James 1:17 tells us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James reminds us of God's goodness and that He gives good gifts to His children. The statement "God is in it" tells us that God is in the midst of our circumstances, suffering and affliction. God is in purposeful control of all that happens to us, and He has not left us alone. The challenge is in "He is up to something good". Many times we human beings define the "good" according to our terms. We shaped it by our expectations and desires. We want what we think is good for us, rather than the good God plans.
Many Christians can recall Romans 8:28: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." For believers, God works all things together for our good. Verse 29 continues and tells us what this "good" is. "For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." For believers whom God is in a covenantal relationship—a relationship of promise, love and responsibility, God plans that we are conformed (changed) to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. The “good” God has for us is this: when we grow to become like Jesus Christ, we will increasingly reflect the image of God. In doing so, we will bring God much glory.
But this is not always the "good" I want. I often wish for relief from the suffering I'm experiencing. Or I desire the situation to go the way I wanted. I remember when my father passed away from aggressive cancer during my university studies, what I wanted then was that he recovered. His recovery was the "good" I wanted. And digging deeper, my sinful heart also wanted no disruption to my studies as I had plans to go overseas to study. But God planned for my father to pass on and for me to care for my mother and brother, who has progressive muscular dystrophy. I sought comfort and that my lifestyle not be interrupted, but God gave me difficulties and responsibilities. I can give thanks to God because that situation helped me grow: it taught me compassion for others who struggle. I developed a patient trust in God, who works ultimately for my good. It helped me grow a little bit more to become like Jesus. God's desire for us is not pain relief nor immediate happiness, but to trust Him and grow to become like Jesus Christ.
Amid this pandemic, with its health, economic and social isolation challenges, the "good" we desire is for the virus to go away and for things to return to normal. Overcoming the virus is a good desire. Even if the virus has not impacted us personally, many are tired of the cycles of "circuit breakers" and "heightened alerts" disrupting our plans and lives. What if the "good" we want is not the "good" God desires? Perhaps God plans for us to draw close to Him and grow in our relationship with Him. Or maybe He desires that we increasingly rely on Him at this time. Or perhaps God wants us to grow into Christlike maturity as we learn to face our current circumstances with faith: trusting that God is in this, and He is up to something good. Or perhaps God wants to expose our idols that remain hidden in favourable times so that God can wean us off them. Or maybe He wants us to learn to be a church: in the sense of learning to watch out and care for one another at this time. This COVID-19 season is an opportunity for us to grow and be conformed to the image of Christ. Ultimately godliness and knowing God is a true joy.
1. Wednesday Bible Study ("WBS") is a weekly Bible study for all ages that meet virtually every Wednesday to sit under the Word of God together. At WBS, we aim to equip one another with the confidence and tools to understand God's Word so that we might speak the truth in love with one another. We want to help one another apply the Word of God into our lives, to be sanctified and transformed by His Word!
We are currently mid-way through the book of Hebrews; join us every Wednesday, 730– 9pm via Zoom! Don't hesitate to contact Matthew Choo (8511 1105) for Men's or Jena Tang (9798 8630) for Women's. Meeting ID: 857 3596 5751 Passcode: 695349
2. Join us online at 5pm this Saturday (7 Aug) or 9am this Sunday (8 Aug) as we look at Genesis 10:1-11:26 on "Sin Scatters, God Gathers". Pray for God's Spirit to prepare our hearts to hear from God's Word and apply it in our lives.